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India, the world’s third largest emitter of greenhouse gases, pledged at COP26 to achieve zero emissions by 2070. With 1.35 billion inhabitants, it has placed the production and use of hydrogen at the center of its emissions reduction strategy.
On Wednesday, the government unveiled the first phase of a broad environmental program to produce green hydrogen, the National Hydrogen Mission, which was announced last August by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
« The implementation of this policy will provide clean fuel to the population »the energy ministry said, adding that it will reduce reliance on fossil fuels.
India depends on coal, oil and biomass to meet 80% of its energy demand.
According to the Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), the country uses 6 million tonnes of hydrogen annually, and estimates that demand could reach 28 million tonnes by 2050.
The government is considering imposing obligations on polluting industries to use green hydrogen, Energy Minister Raj Kumar Singh said on Wednesday.
They foresee a minimum of 10% use of green hydrogen by refineries from 2023-2024, with a gradual increase to 25% over the next five years. Similarly, it is planned to set a mandatory use threshold of 5% for fertilizer industries, with a gradual increase to 20%.
Successful transition to clean energy
In his publications on the social network LinkedIn, the expert in renewable energies Pankaj Pramanik, affirms that “green hydrogen should help control the risk of grid collapse due to the unpredictability and mismatch of renewable energy production and consumption”.
“The main challenge for policy makers is to change market demand and bring about a shift from using gray hydrogen to green hydrogen”explains the CEO of Global CEO.
In this sense, the government has obtained the support of state heavyweights such as the country’s largest oil refiner Indian Oil and the National Thermal Power Company NTPC, reports the financial magazine Bloomberg. Big manufacturers like Gautam Adani and Mukesh Ambani will also invest in green hydrogen.
Indian Oil is preparing to produce 70,000 tons per year of green hydrogen by 2030, or about 10% of its global consumption.
Some incentives for producers are underway. The government is offering support to companies for setting up storage facilities near ports for green hydrogen.
The price to pay for the fuel of the future
Green hydrogen is produced by the electrolysis of water with renewable energy. It involves splitting water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen, in particular using wind, solar and hydroelectric energy. While the conventional method, steam methane reforming from natural gas, is a process that emits a large amount of carbon dioxide.
This fuel has several applications, including supplying raw materials to industries, running automobiles with fuel cells, and improving renewable energy storage.
Although investments in green hydrogen are increasing, this technology of the future still comes up against the high cost of infrastructure.
This is why Mr. Modi reminded rich countries on Wednesday that their support is essential to finance this transition, stressing that « developed countries must respect their commitments in terms of financing and technology transfer ».
Hydrogen, the most abundant element in nature, is destined to become the main fuel worldwide. India plans to produce five million tonnes of green hydrogen per year by 2030.